The Miami Dolphins will take on the Minnesota Vikings at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday in a game where nothing is on the line. While the Dolphins still can somehow make the playoffs, it would be a miracle of epic proportions and the percentage of it happening is close to zero. Nonetheless, the game must go on and Joe Philbin, Ryan Tannehill and the rest of the team have been busy preparing for the game.
One player they’ll have to look out for is quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a rookie who has found limited success thus far this season.
“I think he’s doing a really nice job. I really think he has a good presence and awareness back there,” Philbin said. “He’s completing almost 64 percent of his passes. For a rookie, I think that’s outstanding. I like his poise back there and his ability to kind of keep his focus where it needs to be. He’s got a good knack when to leave (the pocket) and when to sit in there and make the tough throws. He’s taken some hits, and he keeps getting up. I think he’s done a heck of a job.”
Bridgewater said that the game has been slowing down a lot for him over the past few weeks and Tannehill said that he can familiarize with that as of course, it happened to him during and after his rookie season.
“Yeah. Once you hit that point, that’s when you see your play really get better. If you’re out there thinking and not reacting, you’re going to play slower. You’re not going to be as accurate and just not going to play as well. As soon as the game starts slowing down at that point where you’re reacting and not thinking, then your play definitely increases.”
Philbin, who worked in Green Bay in various positions including offensive coordinator, is familiar with several Vikings players, including wide receiver Greg Jennings.
“He was a great professional when I worked with him. I really have a lot of respect for him. He has a wonderful family, his wife Nicole. He’s a consummate pro when I was with him and an excellent football player.”
As for the rest of the guys? Philbin said that while there is some familiarity, things have changed a lot in three years.
“As you mentioned, in three years, things have changed an awful lot. I just think Coach (Mike) Zimmer and George Edwards, who was with us here, their defense is playing really fast and aggressive. They’re playing extremely well. It’s a well-coached team overall. Offensively, I think they’re a team that’s improving. I think Coach Zimmer has done a great job there.”
Tannehill noted that it’s a little different preparing for a team that you don’t often see but noted that the two teams play a similar style of defense so that has helped this week leading up to the game.
“They do a lot of stuff. They give you all kinds of different looks, all kinds of exotic blitzes. They make it tough in protection and make it tough for offenses to move the ball, especially on third down. So we’re going to have to do a good job with that.” [Cornerback Xavier Rhodes] is playing well. He’s a big guy, physical guy. He plays the ball well in the air. I’ve seen him make some great plays on the ball on stop routes. He really makes it tough with his long arms. If the ball is not going to the perfect spot, he’s going to have a chance to pick it. So I definitely respect the way he is playing right now.”
We’ll see how the Dolphins respond on Sunday knowing that they are not really playing for anything. It will be a huge testament to the handle that Philbin has on this team and can be a game that helps determine his fate at the end of the season.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs